Based on historical events, the lives of two women living centuries apart are bound together by an enigmatic painting in this mesmerizing debut.
Art historian Yasmine has been working on restoring an unsigned portrait of a strikingly beautiful girl from the Napoleonic Era, when she discovers that the artist has embedded a lock of hair into the painting, something highly unusual. The mysterious painting came into the museum’s possession without record, and Yasmine sets out to uncover the secret concealed within this captivating work.
Meanwhile, at the close of the French Campaign in Egypt, sixteen-year-old Zeinab, the daughter of a prominent sheikh, is drawn into French high society when Napoleon himself requests her presence. Enamored by the foreign customs of the Europeans, she finds herself on a dangerous path, one that may ostracize her from her family and culture.
Seamlessly merging fiction with history, art and politics, modern day Cairo with its opulent past, this compelling story of two women caught between worlds and entangled in matters of the heart launches an entrancing new literary voice.
Shortlisted for the 2021 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize For Arabic Literary Translation!